Despite rain in western Colorado this week, half of the state remains in the two worst drought categories. Most of the southwest quarter of the state is in exceptional drought, with much of the remainder of western Colorado in extreme conditions. Neighboring portions of Utah, Arizona and New Mexico are experiencing similar drought issues and, collectively, are under worst drought impacts in the United States.
Reflecting recent warm, dry weather in the state, western Colorado saw expansion of the worst drought categories, while dry conditions grew in the northeast.
Exceptional drought expanded further east a week after it had advanced to the north into Mesa and Delta counties. This week's increases now cover all of Ouray and Archuleta counties and most of Hinsdale and Mineral counties. Southwest Gunnison County and western Conejos County also moved into exceptional conditions.
A week after drought had stabilized in Colorado, conditions degraded dramatically, particularly for the western half of the state.
Mesa and Delta counites, along with northwest Gunnison County, saw extreme drought replaced by exceptional drought - the worst category - as hot and dry conditions persisted in the area.
Rain and thunderstorms that have helped improve drought conditions in eastern Colorado since the end of July largely came to an end last week, while the western half of the state continued to bake under warm temperatures.
Nearly half of Colorado remains in extreme and exceptional drought, the two worst categories. South central and much of the west slope have been suffering under a lack of moisture for most of the year, while the northeast benefited from a late season blizzard and periodic rain to reach drought-free conditions over the summer.
Drought conditions continued to improve across a large part of Baca County, and portions of Prowers, eastern Las Animas and the southeast corner of Bent County.
It was a different story for western Montrose and most of Ouray counties, where conditions continued to deteriorate. In both cases, exceptional drought - the worst category - overtook extreme conditions that had been in place for months.
Extreme and exceptional drought - the two worst categories - continue to impact nearly half of Colorado.
Some improvement was observed in central Colorado as moderate drought turned to just abnormally dry conditions for southern Douglas and northwest El Paso counties during the past week. Similar improvements were also seen in smaller portions of southwest Elbert, northeast Teller and the southern tip of Jefferson counties.
In south central Baca County, severe drought dropped to moderate conditions.
Hot and dry conditions have contributed to significant expansion of extreme drought in northwest and west central Colorado over the past week.
Extreme conditions grew to encompass the remainder of Garfield and Gunnison counties, as well as all of Rio Blanco and Pitkin counties. Most of Eagle, Summit and Chaffee counties also entered extreme drought, in addition to portions of Lake, southwest Grand, west central Clear Creek and southern Jackson and Moffat counties.
After several weeks of frequent rain and thunderstorms, drought conditions across southeast Colorado began to show substantial improvement.
Extreme drought, which has covered much of the southern third of the state this year, moved out of Prowers and Baca counties. Extreme conditions also gave way to severe drought for large portions of Las Animas, Bent, Otero, and Pueblo counties, as well as smaller portions of neighboring counties.
A remaining pocket of exceptional drought in Pueblo, Crowley, Kiowa, Bent and Otero counties dropped to extreme drought.
Two weeks after all of Otero County, and portions of neighboring counties, moved in to exceptional drought conditions, a series of storms moved part of the impacted area back into extreme drought.
While all of Otero moved into exceptional conditions two weeks ago, the worst drought category receded from the southern two-thirds of the county this week, along with all be the northwest corner of Bent County, the southeast corner of Pueblo County, and parts of northern Las Animas County.